M. Wells To Sell Tourtières for Thanksgiving

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Doesn't this look better than a dry turkey?


Though M. Wells, the Long Island City diner, is now a memory, some of its traditions live on. One is the making of rustic Quebec seasonal pies come holiday time. These were at one time one of the more spectacular entrées on the M. Wells menu. Part of the fun was the unpredictable combination of meat they contained. Another was the perfect, sculptured pastry that enfolded them.


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For Fans of Curb Your Enthusiasm, a Dining Guide and a Quiz

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Season 1, Episode 1 features a fictitious place called, appropriately enough, Mama's Boy.

Freelance journalist and former Cosmo online columnist Lauren Otis has put together an extensive catalog for complex.com called "The Complete History of Restaurants Featured on Curb Your Enthusiam," and boy is it a doozy! In a project that must have taken nearly 80 hours, she watched every episode, and kept careful track of how many included scenes in restaurants. She then identified the restaurants, giving name, address, website, episode it appeared in, and a brief synopsis of the action.

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Test Your Culinary Chops: The Silverware Quiz

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Can you identify the components of this silverware set, cast in 1849 in an Abyssinian pattern? (Click to enlarge.)

We like to think of ourselves as the most sophisticated diners who ever lived, but, really, we've been outclassed previously in several areas of gustatory endeavor. One of them is silverware. While we're content to shovel the food down with a knife, fork, and spoon, or sometimes with nothing more than a plastic fork, previous generations took their flatware seriously.

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City Closer to Lifting Beekeeping Ban

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Bees: good for rooftops.
Someone at the Board of Health must have gotten a taste of honey: one year after council man David Yassky introduced a bill legalizing beekeeping in the city, the Board has proposed lifting the ban.

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A Sausage Emporium in the East Village

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This week, check out my review of Wechsler's Currywurst and Bratwurst, a new temple to German sausage (and friends) on First Avenue. Andre Wechsler, a native of Germany, left his job in finance to open his little shop--a good move, as sausages seem a better (and happier) bet than stocks right now. In fact, Wechsler comes from a long line of Bavarian butchers--one wall in the restaurant displays a large black and white photo of his great-grandparents in their butcher shop.

The currywurst is deliciously junky, composed of a good-quality pork and veal sausage smothered in the mysterious curry sauce, which tastes to me like equal parts ketchup, barbecue sauce and Japanese curry. Other sausages are equally good. I especially liked the skinny, darkly spiced merguez.

Click the clickity above to read the full review.

Wechsler's Currywurst & Bratwurst
120 First Avenue, no phone


Fork in the Road Shacks Up

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So far, the critical word on Butcher Bay, a mid-Atlantic-style seafood "shack" has been pretty bad. In my mind, it's a mixed bag (the fried chicken was greasy, for one thing), but a worthwhile mixed bag.

 For one thing, the lobster pot pie is mind-bendingly good--if you like Maine lobster, cream sauce and puff pastry this dish will make you happy. For another thing, the Chesapeake oysters and raw clams are beautiful, and the fried haddock in the fish and chips sports a craggy-crunchy, totally greaseless crust. I also thought the oyster chowder was nearly perfect.

Obviously, a seafood shack in the city is never going to capture the magic of a paper plate of fried clams on the beach. Still, sometimes you just crave good fried fish, nothing fancy, and Butcher Bay delivers it, at reasonable prices.

Click the second clickity above to read the whole review.

Butcher Bay
511 East 5th Street, 212-260-1333








It's Izakaya Week

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Today, Our Man Sietsema and I present Izakaya Week for your reading, eating and drinking pleasure. Izakayas are Japanese pubs that serve lots of alcohol, and a large selection of snacks--noodles, grilled meat and seafood, fried chicken, rice porridge, and so on.

Our Man Sietsema is at Rockmeisha, where the ramen is terrific, and anything involving a pig's foot is a good bet; skip the bizarre slab of cream cheese.

Meanwhile, I'm at Qoo Robata Bar in Williamsburg, where the encyclopedic menu offers good drinking food like raw octopus in wasabi, quail egg and bacon skewers and whole grilled smelts.

Rockmeisha
11 Barrow Street
212-675-7775

Qoo Robata Bar
367 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn
718-384-9493



Fork in the Road at La Fonda del Sol

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This week, I review La Fonda del Sol, the new incarnation of the legendary 60s pan-Latin restaurant now open in the midtown Met Life building. Josh DeChellis is in the kitchen, and the new version of the restaurant serves Spanish food: mains and tapas in the dining room, solely tapas in the large bar area.

The bar looks like a more appealing spin on an office cafeteria: checkered floors and plastic furniture, while the dining room is carpeted and tableclothed. There's a big price difference, too: mains in the dining room run up to $38, while tapas in the bar go $4-$12.

These two seating areas are so different that they really seem like two entirely different restaurants, and I prefer the bar--the price point and attitude just seems more appropriate right now. I appreciated that it was lively, too, but most of all, I thought the tapas were bright, skillful and delicious, while something about the main courses, like lamb loin with a pepita crust, seemed staid and impersonal.

If you go, don't miss the short rib, which is braised in red wine and then scattered with little spheres of pomegranate juice that look just like pomegranate seeds, but without the seedy crunch. I also loved the whole fried shrimp.

Interestingly, in her review, the Daily News' Restaurant Girl had the opposite reaction.

Click the clickity above to read the whole review.

La Fonda del Sol
200 Park Avenue 212-867-6767

Fork in the Road Loves Floral Park, Queens

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Floral Park, Queens is my new favorite neighborhood. It's on the eastern edge of the borough, bordering Nassau County, and it's home to a large and growing Indian population. There are well-stocked South Asian grocery stores, like Patel Brothers and Subzi Mandi, sweets and snacks shops, and many restaurants--from Pakistani kabob houses to Indian-Chinese spots.

In my column this week, I write about two of the best restaurants in the neighborhood: Mumbai Xpress and New Kerala Kitchen. If Mumbai Xpress were a little bit easier to get to, I would eat there everyday. It's definitely my favorite restaurant so far this year. It specializes in the fast foods and street foods of Mumbai, many of which I haven't seen anywhere else in New York. There are 99 dishes offered, ranging from the more familiar (samosa chaat, masala dosa) to the relatively obscure (misal pav, tokri chaat).

New Kerala Kitchen offers the rustic, fruit-seafood-and-coconut-heavy food of the Indian coastal state of Kerala. The dishes, such as kingfish fry and pulissery, are obviously made with care--well spiced and fresh, they taste like home cooking in the best sense. But each time we were there, the restaurant was nearly empty, and not everything on the menu was available. Still, it's worth a trip, and you'll be helping to keep them in business.

I know it's difficult to get to Floral Park, but supporting these completely delicious, affordable mom-and-pop restaurants really feels like the right thing to do right now. Make a day trip out of it, and I promise you won't be disappointed.

Click the clickety above to read the whole review.

Mumbai Xpress
256-05 Hillside Avenue
Floral Park, Queens, 718-470-0059

New Kerala Kitchen
267-05 Hillside Avenue
Floral Park, Queens, 718-470-6240

 

Fork in the Road Eats 'Cue at Whiskey Sunday

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The sub headline on my story this week is "A new barbecue spot in the land of rotis," and that pretty much sums it up. Prospect-Lefferts Gardens is a paradise of West Indian and Caribbean food, and that's where prolific Brooklyn restaurateur Jim Mamary has recently opened a non-traditional but tasty barbecue spot. It was called Billy Sunday's, in a tongue-in-cheek ode to a famous prohibitionist, but apparently Billy was known for not only hating booze and being an evangelist, but also for being a rabid racist, soooo... that name was soon nixed in favor of Whiskey Sunday.

When I say Whiskey Sunday is non-traditional, I mean it's the sort of spot that serves blueberry-chile barbecue sauce, and cherry-picks styles, from St. Louis ribs to brisket. Shockingly, that blueberry-chile sauce is really good--and believe me, I wasn't so excited to try it. Generally, meats range from really good to mediocre, but I'd say it's a worthy neighborhood spot on the whole. There's a fantastic beer list, delicious, mammoth beef ribs, and a jokey rendition of banana pudding, complete with Reddi-Whip and Nilla Wafers, for dessert.

Click the clickity above to read the whole review.

Whiskey Sunday Bar-BQ
49 Lincoln Road, Brooklyn 718-282-7098


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